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It Was Never About the Cake

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December 9, 2013

Today I celebrate the decision from Colorado administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer who found that my son and his now-husband could not be discriminated against by a bakery.

I have an incredible son named Charlie Craig, the oldest of my three sons who now lives in the Denver area. I have, like any other parent, encouraged him to be himself, to find his strengths in life and to have an open mind, and to always deal fairly with others. In high school Charlie was always helping out friends in trouble, I used to tell him that he had a “social worker’s heart.”

When Charlie “came out of the closet” he was living in Iowa, and he said over the phone that he needed to tell me something very important. He told me he thought he was gay, and that it might be just a phase, but that he was attracted to men, and had been for a while. I listened and cried silently as he opened up to me. I could tell from his voice, he was nervous. I told him I loved him more than all the sands on a beach times two. It was something I would say when he was young and struggling through normal times as a teenager.

In 2004, I was told that I had Stage 2 breast cancer. I had my first chemo treatment the day after Christmas and Charlie was there holding my hand as they started the infusion of chemicals into my IV. He had moved back to Wyoming to help me through this time and to help care for his younger brothers while I fought the cancer. In the spring of 2005 he enrolled at the University of Wyoming in Laramie to finish his degree in Sociology. He came home to help take care of me, and was moving to the town where a young man was tortured and killed for his sexual orientation in 1998. He assured me that things have changed and that there was a supportive gay community there and not to worry. He was right and he went on to graduate. His brothers and I sat proudly during the commencement ceremony.

Charlie was living in Denver when he met and fell in love with David Mullins. They became engaged and started planning their wedding, which would be held in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and a delayed hometown reception in Colorado.

In July of 2012 my son and his fiancé invited me to join them at a bakery for a cake tasting and to discuss a design that was recommended by their event planner. What should have been a fun and special moment turned into a day I will never forget. The three of us walked into Masterpiece Cakeshop, and a man at the counter motioned for us to sit at a small table and then joined us. When the man asked whose wedding this was for, and my son said “it is for our wedding,” the man said that he does not make cakes for same- sex couples’ weddings or commitment ceremonies. When my son said “really?” the man tried to justify his stance by saying he will make birthday cakes or other occasion cakes for gays, just not a wedding cake.

I just sat there in disbelief. All of the levity that we felt on the drive to the bakery was gone. As I left that bakery, my heart was breaking for my son and his fiancé. What should have been a joyous occasion had turned into a humiliating occasion.

We did go on, and I witnessed the marriage of my son to his true love. At Charlie and David’s reception, I met the most amazing woman, Lora, of Lora’s Donuts and Bakery Shop who ultimately supplied their cake. She told me when she read about what happened at Masterpiece Cakeshop she wanted to reach out and help address the hurt, and she did. I can honestly say the cake was a true masterpiece and was a beautiful complement to the celebration of David and Charlie’s love.

The decision that Judge Spencer made has renewed my hope that no other couple in Colorado will face discrimination by a business owner based on their sexual orientation. It was never about the cake. It was about my son being treated like a lesser person.

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